Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin tests positive for COVID

Austin is fully vaccinated and boosted.

Updated: January 2, 2022 - 8:25pm

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Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin is experiencing mild symptoms after testing positive for COVID-19 Sunday morning, he wrote in a statement.

Austin is the most recent latest high-level White House official to test positive, in what appears to be an outbreak in the executive office.

Austin is currently at home on leave. He said he plans on following CDC guidelines to quarantine at home for five days. 

"Stemming the spread of this virus, safeguarding our workforce and ensuring my own speedy and safe recovery remain my priorities," he wrote. "To the degree possible, I plan to attend virtually this coming week those key meetings and discussions required to inform my situational awareness and decision making. I will retain all authorities. Deputy Secretary Hicks will represent me as appropriate in other matters."

He added that he last met with President Joe Biden on Dec. 21, 2021, one week before showing symptoms. 

"As my doctor made clear to me, my fully vaccinated status — and the booster I received in early October — have rendered the infection much more mild than it would otherwise have been. And I am grateful for that," Austin wrote.

"The vaccines work and will remain a military medical requirement for our workforce. I continue to encourage everyone eligible for a booster shot to get one. This remains a readiness issue," he concluded.

The U.S. military has taken a hard line to requiring vaccines and reportedly has yet to approve a single religious exemption to the mandate.

President Biden and Vice President Kamala Harris both had close contacts with COVID-positive White House staffers last month.